fall produce: a colorful cornucopia of nutrition
I’ve always loved the colors of autumn. When the golden- rod starts turning yellow, the ironweed shows its deep purple, and the leaves start changing into their fall wardrobes, I start thinking about back-to-school clothes. It’s funny how we tend to imitate nature when we select our own seasonal color palettes, whether it is for the latest fashions or how we decorate our homes. For all of our high technology and careful attention we give to protecting ourselves from the elements in our temperature-controlled homes and offices, when the seasons start to change, we still are drawn to the colors, flavors and textures of the natural world. They’re comforting, and as it turns out, good for us.
Color it healthy…fall produce packs a nutritious punch.
What exemplifies the rich colors of fall more than the vast selection of produce that is available once the heat of summer gives way to the cooler, crisper air of fall. It’s a virtual cornucopia of options that are as rich in nutrients as they are in color. According to the 2008 article from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Get Smart with Fruits and Veggies,” colorful foods tend to be more nutritious than their paler counterparts.
Pumpkins provide iron, potassium, vitamins C and E and carotenoids.
Consider the vivid orange of sweet potatoes and pumpkins, the rich coppers and purples of muscadines and scuppernongs, the brilliant golds of butternut squash and the virulent greens of mustards, collards and turnip greens. Consuming a variety of colors like these can help us absorb a variety of nutrients as well. What’s more, eating foods like our fall favorites when they are fresh and seasonal, enhances their health benefits.
Sweet potatoes, butternut squash and greens are high in vitamin A and vitamin C, and potassium.
Make the most of fall fare with healthy recipes.
If your grandma’s sweet potato casserole and pumpkin pie come to mind when you think of fall produce, remember, these versatile veggies and fruits can also offer delicious, yet low calorie, and nutrient-rich additions to your meals with the right recipes and cooking methods. Some fall produce can be baked, roasted, and even grilled. While others, like your favorite greens and pole beans, still can be cooked to perfection even when you take it easy on the salt, and fatty meats used for seasoning.
Support your local farmers market.
Fall is a great time to hit the local farmers markets. Let your family help you pick from the abundance of fruits and vegetables that are available this time of year. Not only will you be supporting local growers, but you also will reap the benefits of eating “fresh off the vine” produce that is at the height of its nutritive value.
According to the “Mississippi Fresh Produce Availability Calendar” published on the website for the Mississippi Department of Agriculture and Commerce (www.mdac.state.ms.us), fall is a great time to stock up on fresh fruits and vegetables from your nearest market or stand.
Tasty and Nutritious Fall Recipes
Take advantage of the rich variety of fruits and vegetables available during the months of autumn. Not only is fall produce tasty and abundant, but it packs a solid nutritious punch.
Pork Chops with Cabbage and Apples
1 tbsp canola oil
4 5-ounce boneless pork loin chops
1 large onion, chopped
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1 cup apple cider
1/4 head of cabbage, shredded
2 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and sliced
1/2 tsp thyme 1/2 tsp sage
Freshly ground black pepper
Brown pork chops in a large, heavy nonstick skillet. Remove chops and place on a plate. Saute onion until softened. Add cider vinegar, apple cider and reduce liquid by half. Add cabbage, sliced apples, and return chops to pan. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes, or until chops are cooked through and tender.
Per Serving: Calories 296, Calories from Fat 91, Total Fat 10g (sat fat 2.3g), Cholesterol 62mg, Sodium 67mg, Carbohydrate 25.3g, Fiber 3.8g, Protein 26.5g.
Stuffed Acorn Squash
Prep Time: 10 minutes Cook Time: 30 minutes Total Time: 40 minutes
2 acorn squash
1 tsp canola oil
1 medium tart apple, peeled, cored and diced
1/2 small onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup chopped mushrooms
1/2 celery stalk, diced
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp dried sage
2 cups cooked whole-grain rice (microwavable is fastest)
1/2 cup dried apricots, chopped
1/4 cup raisins or dried cranberries
1/4 cup apple cider (or juice)
Preparation: Pierce acorn squash all over with a knife or a fork and microwave on high for 2 minutes. Remove from microwave oven and let rest for 1 minute. Cut squash in half from top to bottom (rather than crosswise). Scoop out seeds and membranes.
Place squash halves two at a time cut side down in a large microwavable baking dish. Add a 1/4 cup of water, then cover with plastic wrap. Microwave on high for 5 minutes. Repeat with other two halves. Cool and set aside.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a medium skillet, heat oil on medium heat. Sauté apples, onion, mushrooms, celery for 2-3 minutes. Sprinkle thyme, oregano and sage. Stir in cooked rice, apricots and raisins. Add apple cider, cook until apple cider is almost evaporated.
Place cooled squash on a large nonstick cookie sheet. Spoon stuffing into squash cavities. Bake for 20 minutes.
Per Serving: Calories 440, Calories from Fat 24, Total Fat 2.7g, Cholesterol 0.4g, Sodium 36mg, Carbohydrate 96.6g, Fiber 12g, Protein 7.5g
Prep Time: 15 minutes Cook Time: 15 minutes Total Time: 30 minutes
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 tbsp canola oil
1 cup nonfat milk
1/3 cup pureed pumpkin
Preparation: Whisk flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg together in a medium bowl. Combine egg, oil, milk and pumpkin in a small bowl. Stir pumpkin mixture into dry ingredients. Leave to stand for five minutes.
For each pancake, scoop 1/4 cup of batter on to a hot griddle or nonstick skillet sprayed with cooking spray. Turn pancakes when bubbles appear and edges are cooked, after about 2 minutes. Cook for 1 1/2 minutes on second side. Enjoy with warm maple syrup.
Makes 8-10 pancakes.
Per two pancake serving: Calories 226, Calories from Fat 46, Total Fat 5g (sat 0.6g), Cholesterol 53mg, Sodium 414mg, Carbohydrate 40g, Fiber 1.6g, Protein 4.9g
Recipe Source: about.com “Top 10 Low Fat Recipes for Fall.”